The first time I ever stepped foot on my current homestead, we didn’t really know what we were looking at. To be honest, the only reason we even considered the property was because it sat adjacent to my mother-in-law’s home.
So we met the realtor and glanced it over.
The property was practically fully wooded, the house had been abandoned and was labeled ‘uninhabitable,’ but the price was right.
Just like that, we embarked on our journey.
Today, I want to share some tips with you about things you should consider when buying your homestead.
1. The Price Is Right
Price is the first thing I would definitely take into consideration. Because a house can be built or fixed, fences can be built, and all of it done over time.
But debt is something that once you take on, it is very difficult to get rid of.
When shopping for land, always check into foreclosures (like our homestead was) for sale by owner property, or even free land. Those are usually ways to find the best deals.
The main thing to remember is that homesteading is about simplicity. And it is hard to live the simple life when you constantly have bill collectors on your back.
2. Your Land Can’t Be ‘Parched’
What I mean by this is your land has got to have a water source. Without water you can’t have livestock, you can’t grow anything, and if you’d like basic amenities you can’t have those either.
So you need to check the land to see if there is a creek, is it hooked to city water, or does it have a well on it.
If it doesn’t, then you’ll need to consider the cost to add a water source to the property. One solution is to place a tank in the ground and haul in water.
But that still requires money. So you’ll need to know all of this to make sure you don’t overextend yourself on the purchase price.
Or to consider if you even want a piece of property that you’ll have to create a water source for.
3. Take The High Road
When purchasing property, you’ll need to consider your road access. Is it a state-maintained road or privately owned?
When it snows who will be responsible for clearing the road?
If it is you then you’ll need to consider what equipment you’ll have to buy to properly clear and maintain the road. From personal experience, let me tell you that maintaining a road can be costly.
The road where our land is located is off of a private road. So anytime it snows, we have to make our own way out. And when the road gets rough, we have to fix it. We have had to invest in a tractor with multiple different attachments in order to maintain the road.
It has not been cheap.
But it is worth it because of the other bonuses we got with our property. Which we’ll discuss in a bit.
4. The ‘Zone’
Zoning is a really important item to consider when purchasing a homestead. Especially if (like us) it wasn’t a homestead prior to you purchasing it. The property must be zoned agricultural. Or you at least have to be able to keep small livestock.
This was one of the reasons we purchased the property we did.
Yes, road maintenance can be a pain sometimes. But our land was zoned so we could have small livestock. Which was great because we knew starting out that we didn’t want to ‘go large’ for quite some time.
So it worked really well for us. But you’ll need to make sure the land is zoned for what you hope to do with it. If it isn’t then you’ll know to move on.
5. Keep In Touch
The internet is so important nowadays. Even for homesteaders.
It is how we stay in touch with everything.
You need it where you live. You will use the internet for researching hiccups along the way. Or you could be like me, and use it as a means to make an income while homesteading.
So wherever you are planning on purchasing land you will want to make sure that you can have the internet where you are.
And that it will be the excellent quality of internet that you want. It may sound crazy, but we depend heavily upon it so you’ll want to make sure it’ll be available wherever you hang your hat.
6. Location, location, location
Location of your property really does mean more than you might imagine. I know a lot of us want to move as far away from the general population as possible.
But you have to consider how far you’ll have to drive to the markets where you intend on selling your homesteading goods. If you plan on selling what you grow.
So if you are needing to make an income from your homestead in this fashion, you might not want to be very far away from where your local market is.
Again, this will all depend on what your goals are for your future homestead. But if this is part of the plan then you’ll definitely want to consider the location.
7. Wide Open Spaces
This one is a big thing to consider in my book. How isolated do you want to be?
Really think about this.
The location of our land is outside of city limits but still close enough that I can be to town in about 15 minutes because when we first started out, I wasn’t ready to ‘go large’ or go too far out.
But I’ve changed my mind since.
I feel a little differently about my location the longer we live here. I think I’d like a few more acres between me and my neighbors. (I have great neighbors, though!)
So think long term when you consider this factor when buying land. If you are younger, you might really get into homesteading and want more space.
But if you are older then you might not want to be too far out because as you get older, you may need more doctor appointments. That's a fact of life.
So this is certainly something you might want to chew over before making any big decisions.
Have you decided whether you want to be on or off the grid yet? Well, now is the time to take this into consideration.
Because if you want to be on the grid but the place you are looking at has no electricity then you’ll need to consider this when considering the purchase price.
And you’ll need to ask yourself can you even get electricity there? And if so, how much will it cost?
But what if you want to be off the grid? Well, then you’ll need to take those costs into consideration too. Because some people want solar electricity. And other people want to use wind power. While others simply prefer to live with no type of electricity at all.
So this is something that could increase your costs significantly which is why you’ll want to figure it out before you purchase any land.
9. Home Is Where The Heart Is
When you are looking at a piece of land you’ll want to consider each structure that is on it.
Is there a barn? Is there a house?
If there is, then you’ll need to make sure they have permits and are completely up to code so you don’t have any issues there. And if they are in pretty rough shape then you’ll need to figure out the cost to repair them.
When we purchased our land, I already told you that our house was in really bad shape and there were no outside structures. But we only paid $20,000 for 2.5 acres of land and a 1700 square foot house so we couldn’t really complain.
However, we’ve spent around $20,000 building structures and remodeling a house.
Again, it is nothing to complain about.
But it has taken time, patience, and a lot of hard work.
So you’ll want to consider all of this before purchasing land because you’ll need to be totally informed about what you are getting ready to take on.
Taxes are no fun for anyone. But we’ve all got to pay them.
So you’ll want to know what the government will expect you to pay every year. Because you don’t want a piece of land that will cost you a fortune in taxes.
Again, we were very fortunate with our land. It already had a well and a home on it (though it was in poor repair.) But our taxes are very manageable. We only pay around $1100 per year in taxes.
However, I’m sure if you shop around you might be able to find land that would cost you even less than that.
11. Know Your Lines
Before buying land you always want to know exactly where your property starts and stops. Again, to avoid any surprises down the road.
So you have two options.
You can actually look for the pegs that physically show you the property lines. Or you could pay someone to survey the land. We were very fortunate as there were land pegs on our property.
They're still there to this day.
So there have been no questions as to where we could build or put up a fence. And you’ll want to make sure you have that same clarity.
In the case of an emergency, how far do you want to be from a medical facility? That is a personal question that you’ll have to take into consideration when buying land.
And even if you are younger, you need to realize that things happen around a homestead. You use big tools and equipment which sometimes causes serious injury (even for the most experienced carpenter.)
Plus, you’ll want to consider if you decide to have a child how far you could comfortably live away from a hospital or doctor.
But there is no right or wrong answer to any of this. It is all about personal preference.
13. You Want How Much Land?
When buying your homestead, you need to also consider how much land you want.
My husband was raised in the area that we live now. But I wasn’t. I was a city dweller, to say the least. So I wasn’t comfortable taking on a huge homestead. I was still easing into the idea.
But we could agree on 2.5 acres.
Because it was enough land for us to raise all of our own food, have an orchard, a few small meat sources, a couple of sources for eggs, raise our animal’s food, and raise our honey bees.
And the amazing thing is, we still have land left over.
So we could basically be self-sufficient. And as it turns out, we could make a profit from this amount of land too.
You need to consider if you want more than that. If you are someone wanting to raise cattle, then you’d obviously need a lot more land than we have.
So let’s say you start off wanting a smaller piece of land to test your homesteading skills. That is okay. We have decided to do that over the years. And we have pretty well decided that in the next few years we’ll probably want to transition into a little larger homestead.
But we’ll see where life leads and how adventurous I feel when the time comes.
14. Your House Is How Big?
When purchasing a piece of land you’ll want to consider the size of the house (if there is a house on the property.) And the reason is you don’t want too little house. But my main concern is you don’t want too much house either.
Our house has ended up being the right size.
But we spent many months with 6 people living in our home. (We took care of my mother-in-law until she passed.)
We needed this much house, but I don’t want anything bigger. And if we ever do move to a larger homestead, I’ll probably build a house close to half of what I live in now.
I’ve realized over the years, it is a distraction from what I want to do outside.
And even with 3 kids, we don’t need as much space as what we have.
But again, this is up for you to determine. That is just what my family has learned over these past few years.
15. Wooded Land Is Okay
I know it is tempting to walk onto a piece of land that is all set-up and ready for you to go to town with your homesteading dreams.
But don’t always go for that piece of land. The first reason is because that land will probably cost you a lot more than a piece of land that wasn’t ‘turn key.’
And second, you’ll miss the opportunity of designing your homestead the way you want it to be.
So yes, making our homestead functional when most of our land was wooded has been a ton of work. There is no denying that.
But we were able to set things up as we saw fit. And if you have enough wooded land on your property you could actually sell it off to help pay for the land.
So these are all things to consider as well.
16. Don’t Always Go For The Clean Land
You will find some pieces of land have just been junked up.
Our land was.
The property had been foreclosed on twice. And with that comes angry people leaving their home behind. Which sometimes equates to them trashing the property. Or you have some people that just throw stuff out in the woods because they never dreamed anyone would clear it.
Well, our land has been that property.
It has taken years to clear all of the stuff out of the woods.
But we are almost there. And it has been worth it because we’ve actually found a few treasures in our woods.
Plus, if the property hadn’t been in the shape it was, in we would’ve never gotten it as cheap as we did. So I’m actually thankful though it has required a ton of elbow grease to turn this mess into a home and a homestead.
I said all of that to say, don’t overlook a rough piece of land just because it requires some work. It could very easily become your diamond.
And even better, you could purchase it at the price of coal.
So there are my tips that will hopefully help you to purchase your dream homestead and get a great deal in the process.
I’d love to hear from you guys. Do you have any other tips or ideas that fellow homesteaders should look for when purchasing land? Would you like to share your homestead buying experience with us?